How might we make the All Sessions page more actionable and aligned with the user reputation/credibility initiative?
A couple of hack weeks ago, someone had the brainchild that turned into Sessions, Quora's take on expert and celebrity 'AMAs' (Ask Me Anything). The product was very successful after launch, but there was still room to improve on user engagement with individual sessions and especially the Sessions landing page. Encompassing these goals was the user reputation/credibility initiative (explained in more detail under this post: User Reputation on Quora) and Sessions was the perfect target to push to better supplement the perception that people who are reputable and credible in real life are also all over Quora. This project was especially exciting for me because I was able to take a more independent role from my mentor, leading meetings about the project, working with engineers and PMs like a full designer.
The Problems and Constraints:
A Sessions landing page exists, but it isn't very actionable. In it's current state, it is a list of Sessions that are bucketed under "Taking Questions Now", "Answering Now", and "Past Sessions", with the occasional "Coming Soon".
Sessions are often accessed by logged-out users coming from Twitter, news sites, and more. We need to make a logged-out version of the product landing page that works regardless of whether we have personalization data from a logged-in user or from a first time logged-out user.
Because it isn't personalized (against core Quora experience principles), we can't get approval for any kind of experiment launch to test different access points against user engagement.
I have 2.5 weeks left in my internship-- time crunch! How can we scope this? Happily, we were able to skip the experimentation stage because "anything is better than the page in its current state", so the finished state can be pushed to production, and what will go into experiment is the different entry points in various pieces of navigation.
Flushing out the features:
Working with another engineering intern, Xinyu Wu, and the Product Manager in charge of Sessions, Wael Ghonim, we kicked off this project with a subset of the Sessions team and brainstormed a large list of goals and features for this landing page to have. The three of us then worked together to scope our options in terms of time, impact-fulness, and engineering feasibility. I knocked out a Quip doc full of details and more specific mechanics as well as an ambitious user flow coupled with a more feasible one:
Essentially, I solidified the mechanics of the page in a way that would be conducive to personalization, which we planned to do by bucketing Sessions by topic and using existing user data to create personalized bucket order ranking. Within each bucket, Sessions are ordered by status: "Answering Now", "Taking Questions Now", and then all "Past Sessions".
In order to better align Sessions with the user reputation initiative, we decided to introduce the concept of a "Featured Session" that takes the a static top spot for all users when the case arises. This classification is reserved for very high profile Sessions that the team wants to push engagement on, such as Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine or Artificial Intelligence expert Yann LeCun.
From Wireframes to High-Fidelity Mock Ups:
Because the layout of the different mechanics we were thinking about didn't vary in layout, I decided to abstract away from mechanics and focus first on how to incorporate logged-in views with the sidebar, the new featured session, and also adequately explain what a session is.
My wireframes consisted of more desktop options because of the sheer amount of real estate as well as the limited choices I had for mobile UI patterns that were already on the site. These existing mobile UI patterns worked well and fit my goals.
While awaiting design review for the next day, I decided to get a jump on exploring some possibilities for each individual sessions module. We wanted to also explore possibilities for redesigning Sessions feed cards as well as find an elegant way to incorporate the new Group Sessions into the feed cards.
Once we settled on a layout and set of mechanics, I jumped right into experimenting with the visual design and filler information to get a feel for how crowded the page would feel and how it would mesh with the rest of the product. Below is a sampling of some of the more feasible ideas.
I also tried many different hero image possibilities to double check that the near-final iteration could work, visually, for nearly any option.
The final pre-code iteration:
You can see the page in its final iteration today at quora.com/sessions. At the end of my internship, the page was in a near-finished state, so many thanks for my mentor, Jackson Mohsenin for cleaning up code, making a couple of improvements to my design, and launching the page. The project is currently in the experiment stages to determine an appropriate static entry point.